The Squyeres Tale
Ey! Goddes mercy! sayd our Hoste tho,
Now such a wyf I pray God keep me fro.
Lo, suche sleightes
In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve,
And from a
soth ever a lie thay weyve.
And by this Marchaundes tale it proveth wel.
But douteles, as trewe as eny
I have a wyf, though that she pore be;
But of hir tonge a labbyng shrewe is she;
And yit she hath
an heep of vices mo.
No care of that; let alle such thinges go.
But wit ye what? in counseil be it seyd,
rewith sore I am unto hir tied;
And if I sholde reken every vice,
Which that she hath, i-wis I were too nyce;
cause why; it shuld reported be
And told to hir by som of this companye,
(By whom it needith not for to
Since wommen connen alle such chaffare);
And eek my witte suffisith nought therto
al; wherfor my tale is do.
Sir Squier, com forth, if that your wille be,
And say us a tale of love, for certes ye
Connen theron as moche
as ony man.
Nay, sir, quoth he; but I wil say as I can
With herty wil, for I wil not rebelle
Against your wille; a tale wil I
Have me excused if that I speke amys;
My wil is good; and thereto my tale is this.
At Sarray, in the lond of Tartary,
Ther dwelled a kyng that warred agaynst Russy,
Thurgh which ther deyèd
many a doughty man;
This nobil kyng was clepèd Cambynskan,
Which in his tyme was of so gret renoun,
ther was nowher in no regioún
So excellent a lord in alle thing;
Him lakked nought that longèd to a kyng.
the same secte of which that he was born,
He kept his faith to which that he was sworn;
And therto he
was hardy, riche, and wys,
And just and piteous, and of good servyse,
Soth of his word, benign and honurable;
his coráge as is the centre stable;
Yong, fresch, and strong, of fame désirous,
As eny bachiler of al his hous.
fair person he was, and fortunát,
And kepte alway so wel his royal estat,
That ther was nowher such another
This noble kyng, this Tartre Cambynskan,
Hadde tuo sones by Elcheta his wyf,
Of which the eldest
was clepèd Algarsyf,
That other was i-clepèd Camballo.
A doughter had this worthi king also,
was, and highte Canacee;
But for to telle yow al hir beautee,
It lieth not on my tonge, nor my connyng,
dar nought undertake so high a thing;
Myn English eek is insufficient,
It moste be an oratour excellent
knew his termes longyng to that art,
If he shold hir descrybe in eny part;
I am non such, I must speke as
And so bifel it, that this Cambynskan
Hath twenty wynter born his dyademe;
As he was wont fro yer to
yer, I deme,
He publisshèd throughout Sarray citee
The fest solemne of his nativitee,
The fifteene day of
March, after the yeer.
Phebus the sonne ful joly was and cleer,
For he was nigh his exaltacioun
his face, and in his mansioun
In Aries, the colerik, the hot signe.
Ful lusty was the wether and benigne,
which the foules in the sonne sheene,
What for the sesoun and for the yonge greene,
Ful lowde sang
in there affeccioun;
They semed have gotten them proteccioun
Agenst the swerd of wynter kene and
This Cambynskan, of which I have you told,
In royal vesture, sittyng on his deys
With dyadem, ful
high in his paleys,
And held his fest so solemne and so riche,
That in this worlde was there noon it like.
which if I shal tellen al the array,
Than wold it occupie a someres day;
And eek it needith nought for to
Of every cours the ordre and the servýse.
I wol nat tellen of the straunge dishes,
Nor of the swannes,
the briddes, and the fishes.
For in that lond, as tellen knightes olde,
Ther is som mete that is ful deyntee
That in this lond men reck of it but smal;
Ther is no man it may reporten al.
I wol not tarien you,
for it is pryme,
And for it is no fruyt, but los of tyme,
Unto my purpos I wol have recours.
That so bifelle
after the thridde cours,
Whil that the kyng sit thus in his array,
Herkyng his mynstrales that their thinges
Byforn him atte boord deliciously,
In atte halle dore al sodeynly
Ther com a knight upon a steed of
And in his hond a brod myrour of glas;
Upon his thomb he had of gold a ryng,
And by his side a
naked swerd hangyng:
And up he rideth to the hye bord.
In al the halle was ther not spake a word,
mervayl of this knight; him to byholde
Ful busily they watch bothe yong and olde.
This straunge knight that cam thus sodeynly,
Al armèd save his heed ful richely,
Saluted hath the kyng,
and lordes alle
By ordre, as they seten in the halle,
With so high reverens and óbservaúnce,
As wel in speche
as in his countynaunce,
That Gaweyn with his olde curtesye,
Though he were come again out of fayrye,
not amende it, no not with a word.
And after this, biforn the highe bord
He with a manly vois sayd his
After the forme he used in his langáge,
Withouten fault of sillabil or letter.
And for his tale shulde